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Ronning Ready for a New Role

Hockey: A teacher for young players in Nashville, veteran acquired by Kings for his offensive abilities.

March 18, 2002|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cliff Ronning has had easier weeks.

Last Tuesday, he was honored by the Nashville Predators after playing in his 1,000th NHL game a few nights earlier. Two days later, the Predators' all-time leading scorer pledged his allegiance to the fourth-year expansion franchise, telling reporters he and his family were happily settled in Nashville and that he hoped to play in the Predators' first playoff game, whenever that might be.

On Saturday, the Predators traded him to the Kings for seldom-used defenseman Jere Karalahti and a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft.

"It's always emotional, and it's tough," Ronning, 36, said Sunday after arriving in El Segundo, "but as a professional athlete this is part of the game....

"In Nashville, I was pretty well doing what I was asked to do, and that was trying to help get young kids to develop as players and find out what it takes to win, and also to contribute. And for the most part that was happening, but I guess they're going in a different direction.

"I'm very fortunate to come to a team like the Kings that has great players. I'm just hoping to possibly chip in and help out those core players."

The Kings are counting on it. On Sunday, Coach Andy Murray had Ronning's playoff statistics posted on a bulletin board: 76 points in 101 games.

Ronning, though, hasn't participated in the playoffs since 1998. He's looking forward to making his return next month.

"There's still, obviously, some work to be done," said the veteran forward, who will make his King debut tonight against the San Jose Sharks. "But this team's played great and if I can help out in any way, I'm looking forward to the challenge."

*

TONIGHT

at San Jose, 7:30

Fox Sports Net

Site--Compaq Center.

Radio--KSPN (1110).

Records--Kings 33-22-9-4, Sharks 36-21-8-3.

Record vs. Sharks--2-0.

Update--Since the morning of Dec. 9, when the first-place Sharks held a 14-point lead over the last-place Kings in the Pacific Division race, the Kings are 25-8-5-2, the Sharks 22-14-3. The teams play again Saturday at Staples Center, by which time the Sharks' lead could be history.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The New King

Cliff Ronning's statistics with Nashville Predators before being traded to the Kings Saturday:

Games...67

Goals...18

Assists...31

Points...49

Plus/Minus...0

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